Strengths: On the surface, they appear to be well rounded. They can hit quite a bit, they can pitch well from front to back. Joey Votto remains one of the great players in the game, and Shin Soo Choo and his ridiculously awesome on base percentage at the top of the order remains one of the most criminally underrated players in the game. Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto (when healthy) form a solid front of the rotation. Aroldis Chapman is practically unhittable. Life should be good.
Weaknesses: Well, up until the end of this season, Dusty Baker was manager, so it if came down to crucial decisions in a game, the Reds were at a disadvantage. Brandon Phillips, while a pretty good player, is an odd choice to bat clean up, but that’s where he was. And the inability to manage a pitching staff, a monkey that has been on Baker’s back for a long time, continues to hound him. The talent is here, and if it fails to come through on the big stage, someone has to take the fall. And that’s what happened.
Off-Season Needs: Sign Choo long term, comes to mind. And assuming Bronson Arroyo leaves via free agency, that’s 35 starts and 200 innings that will need to be replaced. I wouldn’t mind seeing them upgrade at catcher either. You can deal with guys that don’t hit much if they’re good defensively, but neither Ryan Hanigan nor Devin Mesoraco are any better than average behind the dish.
2014 Outlook: This is a good team that made the post-season in spite of Dusty Baker. They should continue to. They’re in a brutal division that also features World Series runner-up Saint Louis, and an up-and-coming Pirates squad, so nothing should be taken for granted. I think they get a wild card spot with 90 or so wins.